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Canadian content clause for streetcars

Bidders seeking $1.2B deal must buy 25% of parts, labour here

Dec 19, 2007 04:30 AM
Tess Kalinowski
Transportation Reporter

Companies who want the TTC’s whopping $1.2 billion contract for new streetcars will have to demonstrate that 25 per cent of the labour and parts are purchased in Canada.

The contract is believed to be among the largest to be awarded by a city in Canadian history.

Transit commissioners met yesterday to decide how best to support the national economy while ensuring the bidding process for the 204 sleek, new, low-floor streetcars remains competitive.

The 25 per cent Canadian content - worth about $300 million - was as much as the TTC could demand without disqualifying all but Bombardier from winning the contract, according to a consultants’ report commissioned by the TTC.

Toronto councillors were criticized last year for awarding a $710 million contract for 234 subway cars to Bombardier in Thunder Bay without soliciting competitive bids.

To require more than 25 per cent would leave the TTC open to criticism of initiating an unfair procurement process, TTC chief general manger Gary Webster said.

Even if Bombardier was awarded the contract, the likelihood is much of the work would still be done in Europe where the biggest streetcar market exists, he said.

The streetcar contract is only to replace Toronto’s existing fleet to begin, but would include an option to buy up to 260 more cars. Mississauga vehicles could also be added to the contract if that city goes ahead with a light rail project. If that happens the TTC would be looking for ways to increase the Canadian share of the business.

Only one commissioner, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38 Scarborough Centre) voted in favour of awarding another sole-source contract to Bombardier.

Labour representatives argued that given the loss of manufacturing jobs in Canada, the TTC had an obligation to reinvest taxpayer dollars here. But Dan Hammond of Transport 2000, a transit advocacy group said it was the commission’s job “to look after riders.

“We’re not here to solve the manufacturing crisis,” he said.

Other likely bidders: Siemens; Vossloh Kiepe GmbH and Skoda.